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Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

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The history...

The third largest church in Italy, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore has been a symbol of grandeur in Florence ever since its completion. The Italian Gothic building was finished in the 15th century, built on the site of a 7th-century church – the remains of that very church can be viewed in its crypt.

It stands tall over the city as its third and last cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin of the Flower in 1412. The first stone of the façade was laid in 1296. It was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio who worked on the cathedral for six years, through 1302. The magnificent Renaissance dome that dominates the building was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Gazing at the structure today, note the basilica’s exterior with its marble panels in varying shades of pink and green, a white border and a more recent elaborate Gothic Revival façade that dates to the 1800s.

The interior holds very significant works of art, including impressive frescoes painted by Andrea del Castagno in 1456 and Paolo Ucello in 1436. Ucello also frescoed a clock on the inside wall with its four heads of saints. One of the most popular things to do in Florence is to climb to the top of the dome where you’ll be surrounded by lavish frescoes while taking in an awe-inspiring vista of the city’s endless red roofs.

Fun Facts

It took over 140 years to complete the cathedral. The domed rooftop was the biggest challenge to complete as the technology to build it didn't exist in 1293 when it was designed. They started bulding the cathedral anway and the roof was left open until Fillipo Brunelleschi came up with the final design over 120 years later.

The cathedral was under construction for 80 years before Fillipo Brunelleschi was born.

The city of Florence held a competition to find a design for the domed roof. It was during this compeition where Brunelleschi won with the help of his sculptor friend Donatello. Brunelleschi had not built anything before coming up with his design.

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Soak in the beauty of the architecture and history of the capital of the Tuscany region.